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Stocks of firms selling coronavirus testing kits soar

A testing kit of Seegene
A testing kit of Seegene
Shares of South Korean companies dedicated to novel coronavirus testing kits soared on Monday, amid rising demand.

Local diagnostic kit makers are launching devices that detect coronavirus infections, which allow authorities to test over 10,000 people a day as of current -- from around 1,000 two weeks prior.

One of them is Seegene, a maker of the real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis assays. The Seoul-based company closed at 40,400 won ($33.8) per share, up 10.7 percent Monday, on the Kosdaq bourse.

Seegene’s device to detect the novel coronavirus -- called Allplex 2019-nCoV Assay -- has been available for emergency use across the country starting Feb. 16., after approval by the drug authorities.

The company launched the assays to detect the COVID-19 in three weeks, which allows test results to be available within four hours. The kit also earned the European CE marking for in-Vitro Diagnostic devices in February, giving a green light for export to the continent.

The upsurge on Monday came a day after its founder and CEO Chun Jong-yoon told a media outlet that the company was focusing on the assays for the novel coronavirus and put the research and development for the rest of some 160 molecular diagnostic technologies on hold, even at the cost of the possible losses.

It was the second assay to be available for emergency use in Korea since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, following other kits by Kogene Biotech.

Along with Seegene, other listed companies also saw a strong stock price upshot.

Eone Diagnomics Genome Center, listed on the Kosdaq bourse, saw a 3.6 percent rise in it its share price frm the previous session. On Monday, EDGC’s indirect affiliate Solgent announced that its kits are now available in 20 European countries. The kit earned approval of Korean authorities on Friday.

There were exceptions to the uptrend. PCL, a Kosdaq-listed firm waiting for Korean approval of its personal diagnostic kits, dipped 7.4 percent Monday.

Meanwhile, Komipharm International, a company undergoing clinical trials for the coronavirus treatment, rose 6.1 percent.

By Son Ji-hyoung (